Fade In & Fade Out an Animated .GIF in Photoshop

In my previous post on how to make an animated GIF in Photoshop, a common question in the comments was how can you add the transition effect of fading from one image into the next?



With a Fade Effect:


  1. Set up your animation frames in the Timeline palette (known as the Animation palette in versions prior to CS6). See my earlier post for instructions.
  2. Select the animation frame that you want to start the fade effect.
    In the Timeline palette menu (found under this button at the top right corner of the palette: PsPaletteMenu), click Tween…
  3. In the box that pops up, make sure “Tween With: Next Frame” is chosen, so that the frame you selected will fade into the following frame. Under “Frames to Add” pick the number of new frames you want to add in between the current frame and the next frame. A larger number will make a smoother transition, but will result in a bigger file size. Make sure “All Layers” is chosen, and at least “Opacity” is checked. Click OK
    New frames will be added in between the frame you selected and the following frame. The opacity of each layer is gradually transitioned from 100% to 0% and 0% to 100% respectively. This provides a good start, but one problem with this is that you can see the underlying transparency in the newly added frames, which will artificially brighten the image since there is no background layer. This is not what we want. Instead, we want the initial frame to have an opacity of 100% over the course of the tween, as the following frame gradually fades in. This can be manually edited for each frame in the Layer palette, but let’s avoid doing so:
  4. In the Timeline palette menu, uncheck New Layers Visible in All Frames
  5. Click on your original initial frame to select it. Shift+Click the last of the newly added in between frames. This will select all of the in between frames, while still leaving the initial frame as the “main” selected frame, which is important for the next step.
  6. In the Layer palette, right click on the layer corresponding to the image in the initial frame (it should have 100% opacity). Click Duplicate Layer and then OK. This will copy your initial frame image to each of the in between frames at 100% opacity, which will make it appear that the next frame is fading in.
  7. Change the timing of each frame if needed, click File > Save for Web & Devices, make sure the file format is set to GIF, and save the image!

You can repeat this for each set of two adjacent frames that you want to fade in or fade out of each other. In the Tween dialog box, there are a number of other options which can be used to add effects such as position changes, which can be experimented with.

Tested with Adobe Photoshop CS6, but should also work in Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS5

Convert a Video File into an Animated .GIF with Photoshop

It is popular nowadays to create short animated GIFs out of video or movie clips for easy viewing in forums and blogs. With some of the animation features in recent versions of Adobe Photoshop, it is quite easy to create these yourself!

  1. Open up your video file in Photoshop (File > Open). Photoshop can read in a number of different video formats (MOV, AVI, MPG, MPEG, MP4, M4V). If your video file is not one of these, you will need to convert it using a different program.
  2. Open the Animation palette (Window > Animation). You should see a timeline of your video in the palette.
  3. Set the start and end points of the clip you want to convert. Drag the blue handles above the timeline (shown circled in red in the image below) to select the duration of your clip. In the Animation palette menu (found at the top right corner of the palette), click Trim Document Duration to Work Area. If you want to convert the entire video into an animated GIF, then this step is not needed.
    Animation Timeline View
  4. Back in the Animation palette menu, click Flatten Frames Into Layers. A layer will be created for each frame of the video. You then need to delete the original video layer. In the Layers palette, right click on the original layer (which has a video clip icon in its thumbnail, and is probably called “Layer 1”), and click Delete Layer.
  5. Next, click Make Frames From Layers in the Animation palette menu.
  6. Finally, go to File > Save for Web & Devices. Make sure the format is set to GIF. On the bottom right corner of the window there is a drop down for Looping Options, which allows you to make the GIF loop once, forever, or a specific number of times. Click Save and you are done!

Your have successfully converted a video into an animated GIF! This has been tested in Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS5.

How to Paste Transparent GIF or PNG Images into Photoshop

When copying and pasting transparent GIF or PNG images from the internet into Photoshop, the transparent areas of the image may be converted into black. The problem is that transparency is not recognized during the copy/paste command, and so, the transparent areas default to black. How can this be avoided?

Incorrectly Pasted

Correctly Pasted

Method 1: Save the image first.
The simplest way to get around this problem is to simply save the image from the web to your hard drive, instead of copying it. Once the actual GIF or PNG image file is on your hard drive, you can easily open the file in Photoshop. The transparency will be recognized, and you can copy/paste within Photoshop into other open files as needed.

Method 2: Manually remove the black.
Another possibility, although more complicated, is to manually delete the black area after pasting from the web. This is not a good idea if your image already has black in it. Go to Select > Color Range, make sure the Select drop down is on “Sampled Colors,” and then use they eyedropper tool to select an area of the color black which you wish to remove. Turn the Fuzziness down to 0, and click OK. Now simply hit the Delete key to remove the selected black area. Be careful! If your original image has any black pixels in it, these will be removed as well, because after the transparency gets converted to black there is no way to tell the difference. Method 1 is guaranteed to keep the original image intact, but it is useful to know all the options!

How to Create an Animated .GIF in Photoshop CS5, CS6 & CC

Let’s say you have a folder full of images that you want to sequence together as frames in an animated GIF. You can find special programs online to do this, but with some of the new features of Adobe Photoshop, it’s quite fast and simple.

  1. Gather the images you want to animate into one folder.
  2. Click File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack. When the “Load Layers” window pops up, click Browse to select & open your image files, and then click OK. This should import the files you selected as individual layers in your document. Rearrange the layers into the correct order, if necessary.
  3. This next step differs depending on what version of Photoshop you have:
    • For Photoshop CS5: Open the Animation palette (Window > Animation).
    • For Photoshop CS6: Open the Timeline palette (Window > Timeline ).
    • For Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud): Open the Timeline palette (Window > Timeline ). In the middle of the palette, you will see a button with a drop-down allowing you to choose either “Create Video Timeline” or “Create Frame Animation.” You want to choose & then click the Create Frame Animation button.
  4. In the Animation/Timeline palette menu (found under this button at the top right corner of the palette: PsPaletteMenu), click Make Frames From Layers. You can also click Reverse Frames if needed. This will take each layer in your document and set it as an individual frame in the animation.
  5. Now we will change the duration of each frame. Make sure you are in frame view, not timeline view. If you do not see thumbnail icons of all your layers in the Animation/Timeline palette, click the icon in the lower right corner (the hover text will say “Convert to Frame Animation”). Now, back in the Animation/Timeline palette menu, click Select All Frames.
  6. Click the drop down button just underneath each frame image (circled in red in the image below). This will bring up a menu where you can set a duration. Since all frames are selected, all frames will be set to the same time. Each frame can be changed individually, if desired.
  7. The drop down button circled in black in the image above will change how many times the animation will loop; either a fixed number of times, or forever.
  8. Once the frame order and timing as been set up, it is time to save the image! Click File > Save for Web & Devices, make sure the file format is set to GIF, change any other options if needed, and save the image!

You will now have an animated GIF taken from a folder full of the individual frames. In fact, as long as each frame exists as a separate layer in Photoshop, the Animation/Timeline palette can be used to create the GIF. But, with CS5, CS6, or Creative Cloud (CC) it is easy to make separate layers from a folder of the individual frames as described.

If you want to add a transition effect to fade one frame into the following frame, please see my other post, Fade In & Fade Out an Animated .GIF in Photoshop.